We are currently in the final days leading up to the 2021 National Hockey League trade deadline and after weeks and weeks of posturing it is finally time for teams to start pulling the trigger on their final moves of the season. We anticipate that many teams still have moves to make and near the top of that list are the Edmonton Oilers who, under the leadership of general manager Ken Holland, have remained relatively quiet up until now.
Holland and the Oilers are currently dealing with limited salary cap space and as a result there have been some legitimate questions about just how much Holland can bolster his roster prior to the deadline. That being said the latest rumors suggest that the Oilers continue to target some relatively high end forwards, at least as far as salary concerned, although they do have some cheaper options on their radar as well.
In a recent piece of The Fourth Period, NHL insider David Pagnotta revealed the names of 4 forwards the Oilers have shown interest in leading up to the deadline. We'll look at each of them in no particular order to see how much of a fit there might be here.
If we're being honest this is the move on everyone's mind. Hall has had a catastrophic season with the Buffalo Sabres and there is an expectation that he can be acquired for relatively little return given his massive slump this season. Hall is of course very familiar with the Oilers franchise and it would be quite the spectacle to see him return to his former team and play alongside the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
The big obstacle here is obviously Hall's cap hit of $8 million, a contract that could prove problematic for the Oilers even if the Sabres retain 50% of his salary, the maximum allowed un the collective bargaining agreement.
The St. Louis Blues suddenly find themselves outside of the playoff picture looking in and there is now talk that they could look to be sellers leading up to the deadline. St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has shown a willingness to move veteran players out ahead of the deadline even when his team was in a position to make the playoffs, and with Hoffman's goal scoring way down this season he could be on the move.
Just one season removed from putting up 29 goals for the Florida Panthers, Hoffman would be a much more affordable option than Hall. Although admittedly it makes for much less of a story.
There was some concern that Rakell would remain in Anaheim moving forward after he suffered an injury in the days leading up to the deadline, but thankfully he has since bounced back and once again appears to be on the trading block. Rakell is somewhat unique in that he has term left on his contract, something that could make him an attractive option for teams that believe they will be in the playoff picture both this season and the next.
Rakell's injury issues could still preclude him from being traded, but his relatively low cap hit compared to the other two options so far and his extra year of term make him a viable option nonetheless.
A name that has been mentioned a great deal leading up to this deadline but one that I believe may have fallen by the wayside at this point. The Predators have suddenly found themselves surging up the standings in the NHL's Central Division and talk of both Grandlund and defenseman Mattias Ekholm being traded has seemingly quieted down considerably.
Both men may still be available, but I suspect that veteran Predators general manager David Poile will try and extract maximum value for either player, if a move is made at all, and that could put the Oilers out of the running.